On paper this game had all the right ingredients for a Patriots bounce-back game. The Lions were led by former Pats defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, whose last appearance for the Pats resulted in giving up 500+ yards to a backup QB in a Super Bowl loss. The Lions had also been blown out by the Jets on opening weekend and couldn’t stop a stiff breeze. The Patriots had shored up their beleaguered receiving corps by fleecing the Browns for troubled superstar WR Josh Gordon. And yet…
The Patriots gave one of their worst performances in the Brady/Belichick era. The offense started with three consecutive 3 & outs, something they had never done under Belichick. The defensive line was pushed around by an offense that hadn’t had a 100-yard rusher in SEVENTY games to the tune of 159 yards. Including 101 to rookie RB Kerryon Johnson. Defensive leader Dont’a Hightower (and the rest of the defense) looked slow; almost as if the speed of the new spread offense NFL had passed them by.
But even with all of this, the Patriots only found themselves down 10-13 with 10 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. Rookie LB Ja’Whaun Bentley intercepted Matt Stafford, and Brady found James White for the only Patriots TD of the game.
Unfortunately, that was all that New England could muster, and the Lions finished the game with 13 unanswered points. The Patriots drop to 1-2 for the first time since 2012, and all of New England could only hope that this was their Kansas City blowout (“We’re on to Cincinnati”) that led to another Super Bowl victory. But with the 3-0 Dolphins coming to town, things needed to change. And quickly.